By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
March 10, 2011: In 2011, the NCAA Men's Division I basketball tournament has expanded from 64 to 68 teams and will get much broader network and digital coverage due to a first-year alliance between CBS and Time Warner division Turner Sports, which formed an alliance and signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with the NCAA for exclusive coverage.
This expansion has also hit corporate America. Domino's Pizza said it has signed a multi-year partnership to become the “official pizza of the NCAA” and several of its 23 national championships. Domino's is the third company to join the NCAA's corporate marketing roster in 2011, along with Infiniti and Unilever.
According to the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based pizza company, this is the first time Domino’s has partnered nationally with collegiate athletics, and the first national sports marketing sponsorship for the company since 2007. Domino’s said the alliance would be anchored by an alliance with NCAA corporate partner Coca-Cola, which is the “official fan refreshment of the NCAA." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Other NCAA corporate partners are AT&T, and Capital One (corporate champions); Enterprise, The Hartford, LG Electronics, Lowe's, Kraft Foods' Planters, Hershey's Reese's and UPS.
State Farm this past February decided not to renew its sponsorship deal with the NCAA.
“We are very proud to be the ‘official pizza of the NCAA,’ and look forward to a terrific opportunity to connect our brand with national and local platforms showcasing our country’s finest student athletes,” Russell Weiner, CMO for Domino’s Pizza, said in a statement. “Hard work, commitment to winning and an emphasis on team achievement are all attributes Domino’s and the NCAA have in common, and we are excited to bring these traits to life through this partnership.”
The three-week period of March Madness is one of the best-selling pizza segments of the year, according to industry analysts.
In addition to the men's basketball tournament and Final Four, Domino’s will have rights to such NCAA events as the women’s basketball Final Four, men’s hockey Frozen Four and the men’s and women's College World Series.
“Coca-Cola’s involvement with the NCAA and our championships has brought a tremendous amount of positive exposure to our long-standing partnership,” Peter Davis, NCAA director of corporate alliances, said in a statement. “With this announcement as the ‘Official Pizza of the NCAA,’ we welcome Domino’s Pizza to our NCAA championships, and we are excited to see the energy with this new relationship.”
"Hard work, commitment to winning and an emphasis on team achievement are all attributes Domino’s and the NCAA have in common."
According to Will Funk, svp-NCAA partnerships and branded programming within Turner Sports ad sales, "We're excited to have Domino's as an NCAA marketing partner, and look forward to their NCAA activation in conjunction with Coke,” says
Domino's which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, has more than 9,000 locations worldwide.
Under terms of their new NCAA deal, Turner Sports and CBS Sports negotiate the NCAA’s corporate champion and corporate partner agreements.